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Video: Remembering the communication between Brady and Branch

10.11.10 at 11:39 pm ET
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A few years ago, Steve Kroft and “60 Minutes” paid a visit to Foxboro for a feature on Tom Brady, and they took a look at the extraordinary communication level between Brady and Deion Branch. Check it out:

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What the return of Deion Branch means for the Patriots

10.11.10 at 11:04 pm ET
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The return of Deion Branch provides another trusted set of hands in the Patriots’€™ passing game for Tom Brady, and will also allow New England‘€™s younger receivers another year or two to mature in the system.

The 31-year-old Branch, who was taken by the Patriots in the second round of the 2002 draft and spent four seasons in New England, started slowly but quickly became a dependable presence in the Patriots’€™ passing game. After caching 43 and 57 balls his first two seasons with New England, he came of age in his third season. He had 35 receptions in the regular season that year, but had an 11-catch, 133-yard performance in Super Bowl XXXIX, earning him MVP honors and allowing him to be included in the conversation as one of the best young receivers in the league.

(That Super Bowl performance also cemented his rep as a big-game receiver ‘€” he also caught 10 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in a Super Bowl XXXVIII win over Carolina, and his 21 receptions in those 2 games is an NFL record for reception in consecutive Super Bowls and the third highest total of career Super Bowl receptions by a single player.)

The 5-foot-9, 193-pounder was now ensconced as New England’€™s No. 1 receiver, and caught 78 balls for 998 yards and five touchdowns in 2005. But unhappy with his contract situation the following season, Branch sat out, and forced a trade to Seattle for a first-round pick in the 2007 draft, a choice that was eventually used on safety Brandon Meriweather.

Branch’€™s departure was bitter, and was a difficult pill to swallow in the New England locker room.

‘€œI don’€™t think any of us envisioned something like this happening,’€ said former teammate Richard Seymour after the trade was announced. ‘€œIt took the air out of me. It really did. When you look at Deion Branch, he embodies everything we want in a football player. Everything we talk about, the kind of guy we want on this football team, he did as good a job as anybody of embodying that.’€

Now, after five seasons in Seattle, Branch returns to his roots. He joins a New England receiving corps that has Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price and Matthew Slater. While there won’€™t be a traditional No .1 receiver like with Moss, the Patriots’€™ receiving corps will likely look an awful lot like it did through the earlier part of the decade ‘€” without a traditional big-play threat, New England will instead look to utilize more two tight end sets in an attempt to utilize short and intermediate routes in the passing game.

As for expectations this season, Branch ‘€” who hasn’€™t played a full 16-game season since leaving the Patriots ‘€” has dealt with his share of injuries, but has been a dependable presence this year for Seattle. According to Brian McIntyre of ‘€œMac’€™s Football Blog,’€ he was in on 83 percent (186 of the 224 offensive snaps) of the Seahawks’€™ offensive plays this season, and had 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown through four games this year. That, combined with his pre-existing knowledge of the New England’€™s intricate passing game, should allow him to step in and contribute immediately to the Patriots’€™ offense.

While his presence will cut into the playing time of some of New England’€™s younger receivers (namely Tate and Price), it buys some time for the Patriots’€™ younger receivers to continue to develop within the system. What he isn’€™t is a deep threat in the mold of Moss: His yards per catch average has steadily declined the last three-plus years, going from 13.7 in 2008 to 8.6 this season. (His career-high was 14.1 with the Patriots in 2003.)

Branch is signed through the 2011 season, and the Patriots are now responsible for almost $4 million in base salary this season, as well as the the  2011 season, for which he is owed$5.95 million in base salary.

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Report: Branch dealt to Patriots for fourth-rounder

10.11.10 at 9:25 pm ET
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The Patriots have acquired wide receiver Deion Branch for a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Branch, who was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2002 out of Louisville, spent the first four years of his career with New England and developed a tight bond with quarterback Tom Brady. He had 213 catches in four seasons in New England, and finished Super Bowl XXXIX with 11 catches to take home MVP honors in the Patriots’€™ win over Philadelphia.

However, Branch and the Patriots became embroiled in a contract dispute, and New England shipped Branch to Seattle for a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. But the recent trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings clearly opened up a slot for Branch to return to the Patriots.

The 31-year-old has 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown through four games with the Seahawks this season.

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Branch’s absence from practice fuels trade speculation

10.11.10 at 8:26 pm ET
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Time to crank up those Deion Branch trade rumors again.

The former Patriot and current Seattle wide receiver missed Monday’€™s practice to take a personal day off, according to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who said the expectation is that Branch will be with the team Wednesday when the Seahawks begin game planning for Sunday’€™s game against Chicago.

But even an excused absence is enough to raise eyebrows when it comes to the 5-foot-9, 193-pound Branch, who has been the subject of trade rumors that could bring him back to New England sooner rather than later.

Branch, who was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2002 out of Louisville, spent the first four years of his career with New England and developed a tight bond with quarterback Tom Brady. (He had 213 catches in four seasons in New England, and finished Super Bowl XXXIX with 11 catches to take home MVP honors in the Patriots’€™ win over Philadelphia.)

Branch and the Patriots became embroiled in a contract dispute, and New England shipped Branch to Seattle for a first-round pick in 2006. However, the recent trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings could open up a slot for Branch to return to the Patriots.

The 31-year-old has 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown through four games with the Seahawks this season.

Branch was at Louisville over the weekend ‘€” his No. 9 jersey was placed in the Ring of Honor before the second quarter of Saturday’s 56-0 blowout victory over Memphis. He was asked by the Louisville Courier-Journal about his NFL future.

“I’m going to leave that to the people that handle that,” Branch said. “Right now I’m still a Seattle Seahawk, and whatever happens happens.”

Read More: Deion Branch, Pete Carroll, Randy Moss, Tom Brady

Bill Belichick on The Big Show: Trading Randy Moss ‘best thing to do’

10.11.10 at 6:01 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick made his weekly appearance on The Big Show on Monday afternoon, and the main topic of discussion was the Randy Moss trade and reports of an altercation between Moss and Tom Brady.

Following is a transcript of the part of the interview dealing with the Moss situation, plus highlights from the rest of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

Charley Casserly is claiming there was some type of altercation between Brady and Moss. Did any of this ever happen?

It’s news to me.

Have you talked to Brady or anybody?

No.

Wouldn’t you know if something like that happened, if somebody had to be separated?

Again, it’s news to me.

You said last week that it was a football decision of trading away Randy Moss. You’ve always said that you make decisions based on making this a better football. How is this a better football team now than it was last week?

Well, as I said, I think you take a lot of things into consideration. When you just put it all together, that’s kind of where it came out. It’s complicated, long, but in the end, I just felt that was the best thing to do.

How long was it in the works?

What’s that?

The trade for Randy.

I don’t know. I never personally talked to [the Vikings]. They had shown some interest a long time ago. And it kind of came up a little more recently, so we followed through on it.

With the acquisition of more talent on offense, the tight ends and [Brandon] Tate, did that make it possible for this to happen? You have more guys to throw the ball to?

It might have been a little bit of a factor. Again, I think it was just the whole combination of things. You know, our team and some individuals and Randy, Randy’s situation. I have a good relationship with Randy, but just when the whole thing was put together, talking to him, I just felt like this was the way to go.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Randy Moss, Tom Brady,

Vince Wilfork on D&C: Moss trade all business

10.11.10 at 2:23 pm ET
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Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show Monday morning to talk about his relationship with Randy Moss and the business aspect of being a Patriot.

Wilfork talked about Moss as a great friend of his who he hangs out with in the offseason in Florida. “[Everybody in] the locker room loved him. There aren’t too many people that don’t like him.”

He also emphasized that it was just another example of business being business with the Patriots and the NFL in general. “Sometimes you forget about the business part of it. But that’s all it was about it. No hard feelings we are just going to keep moving.”

Below are the highlights from the conversation. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley show audio on demand page.

On his relationship with Moss:

Just coming over and being the first new year and I heard he [Moss] had a place down in Florida and heard good things from good people. We hit it off from day one, that’s a friendship that is going to last forever. I don’t think that will change just because he’s not a Patriot; I’ve seen people come and go all the time but that’s one guy that is really a great person, great athlete, great friend, great teammate whatever you want to say, he’s a great dude. We just hit off from day one and we’ve been kicking it ever since.

On surprises about Moss when he came to the Patriots:

The type of  guy he [Moss] is, sometimes the media can be harsh on people, sometimes the media can glorify people. I think there becomes a lot of that and I think that with losing comes a lot of that. If you lose ball games and you lose a lot, you start to see different personalities coming out in the locker room. I never had a problem or anything, we never had a problem with him over here. Like I said, he’s a great teammate, a great person. [Everybody] in the locker room loved him. There aren’t too many people that do not like him.

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More from Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio

10.11.10 at 1:08 pm ET
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In addition to weighing in on Randy Moss and whether or not the playbook might change now that he’€™s gone, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and director of pro personnel Nick Caserio talked about a few other things during a Monday afternoon conference call.

Belichick said he didn’€™t really watch much football this weekend, instead spending time with his kids. (One reader says he spotted him at a Canterbury-Suffield football game.)

On his impressions of how things look this year in the NFL:
“I’d say like usual in the NFL, pretty much anything can happen any week,” Belichick said. “Team you might expect to win don’t win. Teams you might not expect to win win and win big. A lot of real close, competitive games come down to the last possession, the last play, or one key play right at the end of the game. It looks very, very competitive to me, all the way across the board.”

How much has the Ravens loss stayed with you?
“I think any time your seasons ends, you remember that game–whether it’€™s the Giants game, the Indianapolis game, the Baltimore game. … I wouldn’t say not any different than the other games I mentioned. The Denver game, all those games,” Belichick said. “The last one, those are the ones you kind of remember. I think we’ve moved on from all those and now we have a chance to play that team again. It’s a new matchup, a new game, but it’ll be … hopefully, we can learn from some of the things that happened in that game.”

As for Caserio, he was asked about Logan Mankins: “There’s nothing to update on that front.” He was also questioned about the possibility of making a trade for either disgruntled San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson or former Patriot Deion Branch.

‘€I would say any conversations we have about players, we keep internally,’€ he said. ‘€œI would say they’€™re continually ongoing. We look at a lot of players this time of year. Whether it’€™s players who are on the street, players who are available, whatever means or mechanism there is to improve our football team, we’€™ll explore, that’€™s how we approach it. I would say what we’€™re going today, is not different than we do at any point during the year.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Nick Caserio, Vincent Jackson
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